Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Fencing with the Dragon

As I've mentioned before, Rasty loves to watch MSNBC -- for hours per night -- which means that we get most of our TV news from MSNBC, and I swear, if the pundits at MSNBC stepped in dog-shit, they'd swear Trump put it there.  They spend 20 hours out of every 24 denouncing Trump, his cronies, his lawyers, his cronies' lawyers, and everybody remotely connected with him -- and maybe four hours on everything happening in the rest of the world.

So it's not surprising that they spent a good hour denouncing Trump's statement that he was going to back off on sanctions of a Chinese telecom company that had previously been caught trying to spy on the US.  Trump claimed he was doing it in order to "create jobs in China", which sounds rather weird, considering his main purpose of creating jobs in the US, and MSNBC practically bristled with theories about what he was really up to.  The most popular speculation is that the company was hoping to provide communications for an Indonesian theme-park, which would include hotels built and owned by Trump's company.

Only one speaker, briefly, considered that this might have been an indication of some quiet game between Trump and China.  Even that one didn't mention that this deal might have anything to do with North Korea.

Quite separately, the newsies chattered about Kim Young-'Un's latest temper-tantrum, wherein he threatened to cancel the peace-talks with South Korea, and with Trump, about ridding NKorea of nukes, because he suddenly felt offended by the annual US/SKorean military games.  MSNBC seems to think that Kim has played Trump somehow, giving NKorea equal standing the US in Asia.  Not once in their dithering did they mention the name of China.

Now anyone who's studied recent history should know that NKorea, for the past half-century and more, has not really been an independent country;  it's been a front for China.  The Kim family throne has been set in the mouth of a dragon, and that dragon could close its jaws any time it wanted.  A few years back, when Kim II started playing with nukes and actually managed to set off one, China said nothing in public but obviously considered the reactions of the other countries in Asia, particularly Japan, India and South Korea.  A few months after that active nuke-test, Kim II mysteriously died -- of natural causes, everyone insisted -- and Kim Young-'Un hastily gave up his playboy lifestyle and ascended to the throne.  His reign so far has been notable for his amazing bragging, his continuing with the nuclear program, and his assassinating of random officials -- as if he were trying to catch and kill off secret agents who might be in a position to take him out.

His reign has also been notable, among those who think to look for subtleties, for its cooling relationship to China.  When the Chinese govt. announced to the world that, if Kim threw real missiles at the US or any of its allies, China would stay neutral and not defend North Korea, that was a clear signal.  Of course this was paired with a threat to the US as well, should the US hit NKorea first -- which of course the US had no intention of doing.

Meanwhile, the US State Department -- and particularly the Trump administration -- has been quietly and politely dueling with China over matters of trade.  Understand that the Chinese government has long been addicted to economic warfare, even when -- as in the build-up to the Opium Wars -- the result is ruinous for China.  Over the past few decades the US has built up an alarming debt -- a large part of it with China -- but China has also been having employment problems of its own.  This explains its WPA-like building programs, that have put up whole cities out in the boondocks that have no economic reason to exist.  China has always had a problem with overpopulation, and all the troubles that brings.  One of those problems is famine, and North Korea has never been any help with that.  The western nations -- particularly the US, Canada and Australia -- have always been good at producing abundances of food, possibly enough to pay off a multi-trillion-dollar debt.  China will, of course, dicker and duel to get the most advantage out of any deal, but it absolutely does need food and jobs for that excess population.  The State Dept. is aware of economic warfare and how to play it, and so is Trump.

Point is, China is quite willing to dump NKorea -- and it's megalomaniac leader -- in exchange for advantageous deals with the west, particularly the US.  This is why Kim Young-'Un suddenly agreed to stop his nuclear program, end the long-unfinished Korean War, hold negotiations with SKorea for uniting the peninsula and even chat with Trump.  The Chinese dragon began closing its mouth that Kim's throne sits in.  Just what China threatened Kim with is anyone's guess, but it scared him badly.  I suspect that soon enough our spies will report that a lot of people around Kim have been assassinated, as he flailed out trying to catch Chinese agents.  Now he's reversed himself on the negotiations, and is insisting that NKorea will never give up its nukes.  This is not what China wants to hear.  Trump's counter-offer, taking the sanctions off the communications company (with, I think we can be sure, certain guarantees that it can't effectively spy on the US again), is quite enough to make the dragon close its jaws completely.

I predict one of two outcomes;  either Kim quietly reverses himself again and lets the negotiations go ahead, complete with the even quieter arrangement that all his nukes and their supplies go to China, or...  He suffers from a sudden, fatal aneurysm.  Natural causes.

In Asia, at least, nobody gets away with underestimating the dragon.

--Leslie <;)))><   


Technomad said...

If I'd been Trump, I'd have told Xi Jenping: "Listen very carefully, sh*-t-for-brains, for I will say this only once. You are going to rein in Little Kim, and keep your tame Koreans on a nice tight leash. No more kidnappings. No more blowing up South Korean officials on visits to foreign countries. No more meth trade. No more counterfeiting our currency. No more shenanigans, end of sentence, full stop. Otherwise, I'm going to slap an embargo, or at least a 5000% tariff, on all Chinese goods coming into the US, and rescind the visas of all Chinese nationals on US soil and deport them. No more Economic Miracle to keep your neck, and your worthless associates' necks, from the hempen stretching they've so richly earned. Capisce?"

And Xi would look at me and say "You don't look like Michelle of the Resistance, Mr. President!" You find Allo, Allo fans in the oddest places...

Paradoctor said...

And if I were Xi I'd reply, "O honorable short-fingers, we'll take care of our pet buffer state without your incompetent help. As for the tariffs, we'll just have to fast-track One Road One Belt, and not need your overvalued dollars that much sooner. Sure we'll have trouble, but we're a Communist dictatorship with Confucian values and a cybernetic social-credit system. Meanwhile you owe us several trillion dollars; pay up or we'll cut off your credit line. We'll see who crashes first, O decadent one."

Technomad said...

I would respond: "O lizard-with-delusions-of-grandeur, you have done a p*ss-poor job of dealing with that buffer state, and have allowed it to impinge upon your betters. And allow me to acquaint you with the geographic facts of life. We in the US could choke off your foreign trade, or even without bothering your shipping, jam it up beyond all belief. A great deal of what you export to Europe passes through our territory, in sealed freight containers. Imagine the pile-ups that would happen if our customs inspectors were required to inspect personally, including opening and looking at the contents, of every one of those containers. The stacks would make Mount Everest look rather small. Or if we wanted to be more pro-active, your shipping passes through narrow straits to get to your shores--and we, unlike you, have a large blue-water navy with many experienced sailors. Choking those off to your ships, and to ships heading to your country, would be child's play. And if you can't sell your goods overseas, you're going to have lots of angry, suddenly-unemployed people to deal with. Lao Baixing (Chinese for "John Q. Public") tolerates you because you've brought some prosperity. If that prosperity goes away, he might not be so tolerant, and the Mandate of Heaven will be up for grabs."

Paradoctor said...

Like Bomb said in the movie "Dark Star": "This is fun!"
My turn:
"O decadent lordling with delusions of competence, allow us to acquaint you with the economic facts of life. If your overextended empire were to aggress against our legitimate business interests, then we would be forced to sell off trillions of the debt that you owe us. This would be most regrettable for us, as we would get a fraction of what we paid for them; but it would be even more regrettable for you, as your dollar would then become worth a small fraction of its present value. In theory this should boost your manufacturing exports; but your greedy, shortsighted capitalist class has already offshored all of its manufacturing to us. In theory you could prosper by innovation; but unfortunately for you, you have fewer scientists and engineers than you have lawyers and stockbrokers. Fortunately for us, we have more scientists and engineers than you have... people. So you cannot defeat us in a trade war; we will win and you will lose. You can threaten us with your weapons, but the Dragon also controls nuclear fire. And as for threatening the stability of our regime... we regret to inform you that Mr. Putin is very disappointed in you; so disappointed that he has told us certain amusing tales about you. We too know similar tales about you, but will remain discreet about them, for now."

Leslie Fish said...

Heheheheh! Talk about Punch and Judy! Nah, I think Trump just said, very politely, "South Korea has absolutely no interest in acquiring nukes, and for good reason. Let Kim disappear or abdicate, and *you* come take all his nukes and missiles, and let South Korea reunite the peninsula the way it wants to. It'll be tied up for decades undoing the mess the Kims did, and won't be any trouble to you. Meanwhile, it'll provide you with a nice trade corridor to Japan, India and the Philippines. When the rehabilitation is done, you won't have a troublesome neighbor but a rich one. Given South Korea's genius for creating businesses, you'll have plenty of out-of-state jobs for your huge numbers of unemployed. Don't be surprised if a lot of them don't come back."

Paradoctor said...

Yes, Punch and Judy.
Your analysis is good, except for the part about sending Chinese men to Korea to stay there. I don't think the Koreans would stand for it. They're very racist, even more so than the Japanese. The Chinese, like us, are mutts.

Leslie Fish said...

Hmmm, but the Chinese have their own brand of racism. I mean, nobody but a Chinaman could tell the difference between a northern (Szechuan) Chinese and a southern (Cantonese) Chinese, or the historical reason for the difference (which is not just about wheat vs. rice!). In any case $$$ talks; the New Incorporated Korean govt. could find use for those hopeful (and well fed!) Chinese laborers -- besides playing them off against the formerly-north Korean population. ...And have you noticed that Kim III quietly agreed to have that meeting with Moon after all? Heheheheh. The dragon closed its jaws a little more.

Paradoctor said...

Tribes are relative, but tribalism is invariant. I suppose that to a Klingon, all humans look alike. Us-vs-them isn't just constant across humanity; we share it with many other species. Our distinction is territory-marking in symbolic space.